Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we reach 80. It is not the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Hail, druids. This week, we're finishing our leveling guide, and after that we're going to be addressing any subject as long as it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with leveling. I'll be revisiting this guide as Cataclysm approaches, as we've already been told that spell and ability ranks are going the way of the dodo, which was really the only depressing announcement from BlizzCon as I was in the middle of formatting and linking hundreds of same.
To wrap up the full guide:
- Why (or why not) to play a druid
- Getting started and leveling 1-9
- Leveling 10-20 (and how to spec)
- Leveling 21-30
- Leveling 31-40
- Leveling 41-50
- Leveling 51-60 (with bonus video footage of Allison achieving 366 DPS versus a level 79 whelp!)
- Leveling 61-70
- And today's column, leveling 71-80
Nothing new (awesomeness aside, Swift Flight Form is just a kicked-up version of Flight Form, strictly speaking -- although I can already hear the howls of indignation erupting over this statement from druid herbalists and skinners), but between 71 and 80 your friendly local Druid trainer is going to soak you for massive amounts of gold. Keep questing.
- Swift Flight Form: You can train the 280% bonus speed flight form (or 310% bonus, if you manage to add a super-fast flying mount to your stable) at 71 if you didn't do the questline at 70. To be frank, most new druids will reach 71 a lot faster than they're likely to get a group for heroic Sethekk Halls these days, so I have resigned myself to the quite-likely possibility that the wonderfully-designed and hugely engaging epic flight form quest will remain undone by many players. Readers have doubtless noticed that swift flight form is without question my favorite photographic subject ingame, and that's because: a). It's almost impossible to take a bad picture with them, and: b). The form is thoroughly iconic to the class. As you've already noticed from the use of Flight Form, you're able to skin and pick herbs in form, making the druid a superlative farmer for these professions. You'll also be a few steps ahead of anyone else in your party no matter where you're going. Insta-cast? Yes please.
- Demoralizing Roar, rank 7: standard upgrade.
- Regrowth, rank 11: standard upgrade.
- Rip, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Tiger's Fury, rank 5: standard upgrade.
Rollin', rollin', rollin'...
- Ferocious Bite, rank 7: standard upgrade.
- Lifebloom, rank 2: standard upgrade.
- Starfire, rank 9: standard upgrade.
- Swipe (Bear), rank 7: standard upgrade.
- Claw, rank 7: standard upgrade. As always, there is no reason to have this on your bars if you're feral.
- Lacerate, rank 2: standard upgrade.
- Maul, rank 9: standard upgrade.
- Ravage, rank 6: standard upgrade.
- Healing Touch, rank 14: standard upgrade. I've had a few people ask whether Healing Touch plays a prominent role in a restoration druid's playstyle, and the answer is generally not. If you're running a dual-spec resto build while leveling (or masochistically healing your way to the level cap), you can glyph Healing Touch to have access to a makeshift flash heal before Nourish (at 80), but that's about it. A resto druid should of course have the usual Nature's Swiftness + Healing Touch macro for an insta-cast version of the spell when burst healing is needed, and that's where HT finds its most frequent use. We're not designed around spamming direct-healing spells; even Nourish is typically used in conjunction with HoT's on a target unless you're just spot-healing a raid. Don't feel guilty if you feel like you should be using it but everything else just works better. While the Dreamstate build has famously made use of Healing Touch spam, Dreamstate was really only a viable build in early Burning Crusade (and perhaps early Wrath, where a weak Nourish just wasn't that great versus a glyphed Healing Touch) and has always scaled worse than its full-resto or heavy-resto counterparts. One of my druid colleagues, a multi-season Gladiator, once referred to a BC-era Dreamstate druid as "a paladin with a permanent Curse of Tongues," and I don't think I can describe it any better than that. More on this in a bit as we reach 80 and Nourish.
- Maim, rank 2: standard upgrade.
- Thorns, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Wrath, rank 11: standard upgrade.
- Savage Roar: This ability, in a nutshell, is what makes competitive cat DPS possible. Roughly analogous to the rogue's Slice and Dice, Savage Roar is a finishing move that increases your physical damage done by 30% for 14 to 34 seconds, depending on how many combo points you've got on your target. A serious cat will additionally want Glyph of Savage Roar. How soon should you get it up? As soon as you can -- the number of combo points doesn't matter unless you're DPSing trash (in which case a 1 or 2-CP Savage Roar will reap more immediate benefits than a 5-CP Savage Roar). When should you let it drop? Pretty much never. Any experienced combat rogue will tell you that allowing SnD to drop is a huge DPS loss, and the same is true of Savage Roar. If you're just starting a fight, SR should be the first finishing move to go up, and after that, just don't let it drop; the temporary DPS you'd gain from using a Ferocious Bite or another Rip will almost never offset the damage you're losing from SR dropping unless the mob's within a hairsbreadth of dying anyway. Should you use it while you're out grinding? Things will certainly die faster if you do, but in decent gear versus an average Northrend mob of 8,000-14,000 health, a cat will kill it within a few seconds regardless.
- Moonfire, rank 13: standard upgrade.
- Rejuvenation, rank 14: standard upgrade.
- Shred, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Tranquility, rank 6: standard upgrade.
Curiously enough, only one skill to train at level 76, and not a very good one at that:
- Cower, rank 6: standard upgrade. This is the max-rank form of Cower and will shave something in the region of 1100 threat off your total. Can you find use for it? Sure. Enough to merit keeping it on your bars? Probably not.
If your druid isn't fortunate enough to have been flying in Northrend this whole time thanks to the BoA Tome of Cold Weather Flight, hit a trainer and train it up. 1,000g here, 1,000g there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
- Demoralizing Roar, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Pounce, rank 5: standard upgrade.
- Regrowth, rank 12: standard upgrade.
- Swipe (Bear), rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Entangling Roots, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Ferocious Bite, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Nature's Grasp, rank 8: standard upgrade.
- Rake, rank 7: standard upgrade.
- Starfire, rank 10: standard upgrade.